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Inductive power transfer (IPT) was an engineering curiosity less than 30 years ago, but, at that time, it has grown to be an important technology in a variety of applications. The paper looks at the background to IPT and how its development was based on sound engineering principles leading on to factory automation and growing to a $1 billion industry in the process. Since then applications for the technology have diversified and at the same time become more technically challenging, especially for the static and dynamic charging of electric vehicles (EVs), where IPT offers possibilities that no other technology can match. Here, systems that are ten times more powerful, more tolerant of misalignment, safer, and more efficient may be achievable, and if they are, IPT can transform our society. The challenges are significant but the technology is promising.